Smoking ban considered for parks in Region 8 city

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) – One Region Eight town wants to stamp out tobacco use in its public parks.

Restrictions on smoking have been in place for a while across the state.  A potential ban in Mississippi County includes not only cigarettes but all tobacco products.

"There are cigarette butts here and some over there," said parent Jessica Jernigan.

Walker Park in Blytheville is one example of a park in the city that has a smoking problem.  At their council meeting on Tuesday night the city of Blytheville will have the third reading of an ordinance banning tobacco products from city parks.

"It's a family place to bring your kids and to play," said Jernigan.

Jessica Jernigan is a pregnant mother of two who likes to bring her son JJ to the park but worries about what she sees.

"It's ridiculous how many cigarettes you will find in a kid's park where the kids play," said Jernigan.

Elroy Brown, who heads the Mississippi County Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas lost two family members to tobacco use and is a strong believer in limiting the use of the products in public areas.

"If I'm sitting there with my kids or a child or my grandchildren they're smoking too by breathing in all these chemicals," said Brown.

Brown wants people to know how dangerous tobacco products can be and is proud to see the city taking this step in what he calls the right direction.

"By making the park smoke free it will cut down on the litter you have tobacco cigarette packages out there you can see cigarette butts out there," said Brown.

While we were in the park there were two women smoking who declined to be on camera and left right after we arrived.  One of the three playgrounds at Walker Park is where they were smoking and parents say that sends the wrong message to their children.

"He sees it on the ground and he sees everybody smoking and he thinks it is ok and he's at the age of two," said Jernigan.

If passed, the tobacco ban would include all four Blytheville city parks.  On the first offense you will be warned.  On the second offense you will be banned from the park for ten days and pay a fine of $25.

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